Clare v Tipperary
@ Cusack Park, Ennis,
A perfect opportunity to bounce back from their senior exit or a game too soon? That’s the big question surrounding Clare’s seven strong senior contingent who played in Saturday’s gruelling 90 minute knockout qualifier clash with Wexford ahead of Wednesday’s Munster Semi-Final against Tipperary.
Only time will tell but joint-manager is certainly looking forward to their return to action despite having several injuries worries for the second successive outing.
“We are really looking to Wednesday night’s game. We met up with the senior guys on Sunday morning for a recovery session in the pool and we also had an internal game with the lads that didn’t play the senior game on Saturday evening. We assessed our injuries and Cathal O’Connell and Eoin Enright are only 50/50 at this stage because they didn’t take any part in training for the past week or so and didn’t play in Sunday’s internal game either so that’s not a great indicator of their prospects of playing on Wednesday.
“Shane O’Donnell obviously won’t be ready for another two or three weeks so we’ll see what happens on Wednesday evening and re-assess Shane’s progress. So he’s definitely a non-start while the other two guys are doubtful.”
It’s six weeks since Clare began their championship defence against Limerick and allied to the Clare seniors playing 180 minutes in the space of a week and county senior championship games also taking place and it has been difficult to get the full squad together in the build up to this last four tie on hime soil.
“Normally when you get a game under your belt in the Under 21 Championship, you build a bit of momentum and things tend to kick off but we’ve nearly forgotten about that game it’s so long since we played and it was a game where your only purpose was to get over the line. So in relation to building momentum, that’s long gone now to be fair.
“So between club action and the county seniors, it’s been a fair old challenge and a lot of communication required and a lot of understanding by both management teams to make it work. But we’ve got there to be fair so we’ve no big excuses other than the fact that the two lads [O’Connell and Enright] are unlikely to make it on Wednesday.
“I don’t know about home advantage either because our lads love to play in Thurles more than any other venue in Ireland. They’ve actually played more championship games in Semple Stadium and are more used to it than Cusack Park believe it or not. Looking at Tipperary, they haven’t lost that many players from last year and Colin O’Riordan who came on and young Maher caused real problems for us late in the second half in Thurles last year.
“They also won the All-Ireland minor in 2012 so there’s a fair old pedigree there and we certainly won’t be underestimating the huge challenge that’s facing us on Wednesday evening.”
One thing O’Connor is confident of is the backing of the Banner support as they bid for a third successive Munster final appearance and a remarkable sixth provincial Under 21 decider in seven years.
“We were all below in Wexford Park on Saturday evening and I’ve never seen a reception given to a Clare team ever after a game as they got at the end of normal time. Anybody that was privileged enough to be there to see what those 13 guys did for nearly the whole of the second half, it was a phenomenal achievement and the supporters responded.
“And I’ve no doubt that those very same supporters will be there on Wednesday evening to motivate our guys to give a huge performance as well.”
For LIVE updates from the game follow @claresport on Twitter from 7.30pm. See www.clarepeople.com for match report following the final whistle.